Series Building on Young Children's Mathematical Thinking : Count With Me: Counting Collections


Common core State Standards

  • Math:  Math
  • K:  Kindergarten
  • CC:  Counting & Cardinality
  • B:  Count to tell the number of objects
  • 4: 
    Understand the relationship between numbers and quantities; connect counting to cardinality.

    a. When counting objects, say the number names in the standard order, pairing each object with one and only one number name and each number name with one and only one object.

    b. Understand that the last number name said tells the number of objects counted. The number of objects is the same regardless of their arrangement or the order in which they were counted.

    c. Understand that each successive number name refers to a quantity that is one larger.

Download Common Core State Standards (PDF 1.2 MB)


Common core State Standards

  • Math:  Math
  • K:  Kindergarten
  • OA:  Operations & Algebraic Thinking
  • A:  Understand addition, and understand subtraction
  • 4: 
    For any number from 1 to 9, find the number that makes 10 when added to the given number, e.g., by using objects or drawings, and record the answer with a drawing or equation.

    Drawings need not show details, but should show the mathematics in the problem. (This applies wherever drawings are mentioned in the Standards.)

Download Common Core State Standards (PDF 1.2 MB)

Count With Me: Counting Collections

Lesson Objective: Count collections of 10-20 objects
Pre-K / Math / Number Sense
Math.K.CC.B.4 | Math.K.OA.A.4


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Discussion and Supporting Materials

Thought starters

  1. How do students record their work?
  2. Why does Ms. Conrow give students ten frames to use when counting?
  3. What do students learn from sharing their work with each other?


  • Private message to Tobon Lucero

I found the activity in this video to be very helpful. I like that the children were excited to count regardless of how many times they did it. Ms. Conrow gives them a lot of freedom because the children are allowed to decide what they want to count. In addition, Ms. Conrow reinforces the material by asking questions and register what children count on their counting collection worksheet. Recording data is an excellent activity to reinforce children’s knowledge.


Recommended (0)
  • Private message to Avery Baird

Allowing the students to choose what collection they want to work with is exciting for them because they are getting to make that choice. They are also using critical thinking skills without even knowing it by using a small or bigger amount because they know the bigger amount has bigger numbers, which may be more difficult. I like how when the student said “I almost have ten” she asked how many it would take to get to ten, which keeps their minds going and grows on their number and counting skills. I love how she continues to ask them questions about higher numbers to grow their number recognition.

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  • Private message to Carolina Sovilay

The idea of the math collections is great because children are learning that each numer can represent concrete objects.  I love that this preschool teacher has high expectations and a growth mindset, and it apparent in her activity with the children and how she expresses herself.

Recommended (0)
  • Private message to Mary Bartz

I loved how these math bags and counting with ten frames helped kids learn to count. By having kids pick the items they wanted they had choices and recording their data showed you they either knew it or did not. 

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  • Count With Me: Counting Collections Transcript

    Cathy Conroe: Other hand.

    Speaker 2: One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten.


    Count With Me: Counting Collections Transcript

    Cathy Conroe: Other hand.

    Speaker 2: One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten.

    Cathy Conroe: My name is Cathy Conroe, and I am a preschool teacher at the South San Francisco Unified School District Children's Center.

    Amina, would you do a big collection, or a small collection?

    Speaker 4: A big collection.

    Cathy Conroe: A big collection.

    Today we're working on canning collections, the goal is to further their [inaudible 00:00:37] counting, their number sense, and their [inaudible 00:00:39], and just have them count and get that practice that they need.

    All right. I have unicorns, erasers ...

    What I do is I put collections of things in bags, from 10 to 20, and I have the kids pick a collection, count it, and record it.

    Speaker 4: Children.

    Cathy Conroe: Children. Good choice.

    It's really important for me that the children feel that they themselves are making a choice.

    Where are the pandas? Is that them?

    I think it really helps them feel that they own it. I also try to pick different items, sometimes, depending on their interests.

    How about this one?

    Because, I really feel that if they, themselves, choose it, they're more apt to stick with it.

    Speaker 4: One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine ... teacher, there's nine.

    Cathy Conroe: You do have nine elephants, because you found one more?

    Speaker 4: One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine-

    Cathy Conroe: You are right.

    Speaker 4: I almost have ten.

    Cathy Conroe: Almost. How many more to have ten?

    Speaker 4: One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten. One elephant's been-

    Cathy Conroe: How many elephants would I need to give you to make ten?

    Speaker 4: One more.

    Cathy Conroe: You would need one more.

    What I'm looking for, for number sense, is I want them to count bigger collections, and so I start them off by 10, and if they can count up to 10, then I want to them to do 20. They, of course, can't always do that, so we might start 13, 14, 15 ... just slowly bringing it up for them.

    Ruby, so you have 20. Can I ask you a question?

    Speaker 4: What?

    Cathy Conroe: What would happen if I took two more bears and I added two more bears?

    Speaker 4: 22.

    Cathy Conroe: 22. How about one more?

    I have been using counting collections for four years, and I have noticed a big difference in how the children count.

    Speaker 4: One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine-

    Cathy Conroe: Before I really think that I was really focusing more on like rope counting.

    How do we check?

    Speaker 4: One, two, three, four, five, six-

    Cathy Conroe: It was a lot of counting, but it was informal counting with the counting collections. To me, it's really intentional as to what I want them to do, what I'm seeing. We're all learning together and progressing together as I do it more and more often.

    How many unicorns do you have?

    Speaker 4: 13.

    Cathy Conroe: Yes, you have 13 unicorns. Can I give you a recording paper?

    Speaker 4: Yeah.

    Cathy Conroe: The recording was something that I picked up from the Stanford Early Math Project.

    You have 16?

    The idea is that the children put down their mathematical thinking. It's a concrete piece of evidence that this is what I counted.

    Is that one right here?

    Speaker 4: Yeah.

    Cathy Conroe: Is that another one?

    At first, I thought, "Oh, you know, they might not want to do it. It might be kind of extending it a little bit too long," but they really surprised me because they actually starting asking me for the paper to record it, because they actually get to take it home, and they get to share with people. So now I get parents coming back and asking me, "Did they really count this?" I'll tell, "Of course they did."

    You're almost done.

    A lot of the times we think that children can't do something. All you have to do is give them the opportunity, and they will take it.

    All right, so how many unicorns did you have? What number is that? Do you remember the name of it? How can we check?

    Speaker 4: You can count the numbers.

    Cathy Conroe: You can count the numbers to check what it is.

    Speaker 4: One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen. Thirteen.

    Cathy Conroe: It is 13. Yes, exactly. Very good.

    A lot of the times I just have them check to make sure that we're on the same page. As they go up higher, they are going to actually have to be accurate in what they record, so I do ask them for the accountability of let's check.

    All right, you said yes? You have a lot of children. Can you show me how you count them? Can you use your fingers?

    Speaker 4: One, two-

    Cathy Conroe: Like this.

    Speaker 4: Oh, [inaudible 00:05:16].

    Cathy Conroe: They are the same, you're right. They do have the same shirts.

    The children, most of them their home language is Spanish.

    Speaker 4: [foreign 00:05:25]

    Cathy Conroe: What I really want to do is support their home language, because I do speak Spanish, I am able to do that, to write it for them. I always do try to repeat it in English so that they do get that English part of it, but I do want to show them that I respect whatever they are saying, and I do want to put it in whatever language that they want to tell it to me in.

    Can you remind me how many unicorns you had?

    Speaker 4: Yeah.

    Cathy Conroe: How many did you have?

    Speaker 4: One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven. One more unicorn is here.

    Cathy Conroe: These are the unicorns. How can we check?

    The kids can actually count a big amount of items, but they're not able to record all of it sometimes. It kind of takes a lot of trial and error.

    Speaker 4: One, two-

    Cathy Conroe: Every time we practice it, I see them just kind of further their counting more and more.

    Speaker 4: Twelve. Do you have one more-

    Cathy Conroe: She needed one more what?

    Speaker 4: [inaudible 00:06:37]

    Cathy Conroe: Why did she need one more circle?

    Speaker 4: Because this [inaudible 00:06:41] hiding this unicorn.

    Cathy Conroe: That unicorn was hiding from you?

    After we're done with counting collections, we go to the rug and do a share out of what we did that day.

    All right, so what are these?

    Speaker 4: Collections.

    Cathy Conroe: These are our collections. Who did a collection with me today?

    Speaker 4: Me.

    Cathy Conroe: When they have the counting collections, they are able to show their friends what they did, and I ask them if they remembered what they counted.

    Do you remember what you counted?

    Speaker 4: Up there. Unicorns.

    Cathy Conroe: You did, you did unicorns. How many unicorns did you have?

    Speaker 4: One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine-

    Cathy Conroe: When I see the kids being able to count collections, is really nice. It makes me feel so proud of them, and more than anything, what I want to do as a preschool teacher, is to send them on to kindergarten wanting to go to school, have them have a lifelong love of learning. I want to see that in my kids.

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